. Your target heart rate is between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate

. Listen to your body and understand the signs

. A lower resting heart rate is optimal because it means your heart is highly efficient

Over the course of this article we will talk about different forms of heart rate and the things you should be mindful of while exercising. To calculate your maximum heart rate, the most basic rule is to subtract your age from 220. While there are exceptions, such as elite athletes, for most people it’s generally considered that their target heart rate during exercise should be somewhere between 50-85 percent of their maximum heart rate.

While experts differ on whether people should obsess over this, the best approach seems to be to use it as a guide for the intensity levels you should be looking to generate during the course of your workout. If you’re falling under that 50 per cent threshold, it could be interpreted as a sign that maybe you could afford to work a little bit harder and push yourself a little bit more if you’re trying to achieve optimal benefit, but obviously within reason.

But the important thing with exercise is to know your own body. You have to listen to the signs, understand what you’re capable of, what you’re not capable of and work around that framework. Things of this nature are a guide to help you in the right direction. The more informed you are, the more knowledge you have, the better off you will be. Your resting heart rate is one of the benchmarks and key metrics that medical experts will often use to determine your overall health. What this is really judging is efficiency and functionality by assessing how hard your heart has to work to pump blood to the different parts of the body.

With that in mind, a lower resting heart rate is optimal because it means that your heart is so efficient that it doesn’t need to work as hard to do its job properly. Everything is in good order. For adults, between 60 and 80 beats per minute is considered optimal any anything above 90 is usually considered a little high. This study looked at the correlation between resting heart rate and the overall fitness of Brazilian adolescents. It first defines the importance of understanding the meaning behind the numbers:

‘Heart rate (HR) reflects the number of contractions of the ventricles per unit time and fluctuates substantially with variations in systemic demand for oxygen.’ This basically means that the heart has to work harder when it’s not getting the appropriate supply of oxygen. ‘RHR elevation in adolescents is directly associated with indicators of cardiovascular diseases, such as increased blood pressure levels, elevated blood glucose, higher total cholesterol concentrations, and elevated triglycerides.’

They go on to say: ‘The main finding of this study was that aerobic fitness was associated with RHR in both sexes, indicating that lower aerobic fitness values were associated with higher RHR values.’ So the findings indicate that aerobic exercise improves your resting heart rate and is beneficial to your overall health. As this study was done on adolescents, it also illustrates why it’s important to get into good exercise habits at a young age and hopefully maintain them right throughout your life.

A high resting heart rate has always been considered dangerous because it’s often interpreted as a predictor of cardiovascular disease down the road, which is one of the reasons why it’s important to address the issue and put in place measures to rectify that while you are still healthy enough to do so. The ways you can do this are obviously through diet, lifestyle and exercise. When connecting the correlation between heart rate and heart disease this study interpreted the data as such:

‘Results from this meta-analysis suggest the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality increased by 9% and 8% for every 10 beats/min increment of resting heart rate. Compared with 45 beats/min, the risk of all-cause mortality increased significantly with increasing resting heart rate in a linear relation, but a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular mortality was observed at 90 beats/min.’

So again, when you start approaching that 90 beats per minute threshold, you’re starting to enter dangerous territory and it’s important to activate some lifestyle choices for your own health and your own benefit.

We will go into greater specifics at a later date, but this is a general overview of why it’s important for people of all ages to get tested, take the data seriously and then make practical changes in regards to diet and exercise if you find you’re not putting your best foot forward in regards to your long term health.


NCBI: Association between Resting Heart Rate and Health-Related Physical Fitness in Brazilian Adolescents


NCBI: Resting heart rate and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in the general population: a meta-analysis